25 Oct 2010

Call for better sex education for Vanuatu boys

3:23 pm on 25 October 2010

Teenage boys in Vanuatu have told researchers they want better sex education, given by experts.

AUSAID has funded a pilot study in Vanuatu to find out how to make reproductive information more accessible to teenagers throughout the Pacific.

A sexual health specialist from Melbourne's Burnet Institute, Natalie Gray, says a lot of published literature assumes teenagers want to get information from friends but the study found teens would rather learn from health workers who they value as more trustworthy.

She says the research has revealed surprising gaps in services.

"There's been a great focus on avoiding sexually transmitted infections and HIV but a lot of the education programmes haven't included family planning information. And if family planning information has been included, it's been very much for girls and not boys. And boys are saying 'Hey, what about us? We want to to know all about this as well. We want to help in these kinds of decisions."

Natalie Gray says the results will be included by Vanuatu's Ministry of Health in guidelines for more youth friendly health services and she hopes services will also be improved in other Pacific countries.